Green giants: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell meet at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. (Black Press files)

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

Look out, it’s another dumpster fire! No, not at ICBC. This one is at B.C. Hydro, where Energy Minister Michelle Mungall has dashed to the scene on the back of the NDP’s political emergency vehicle to put out another B.C. Liberal smouldering mess.

This one is independent power production, or “pirate power” as NDP stalwarts and Hydro’s office union used to call it when former premier Gordon Campbell was executing his vision for a cleaner, greener tomorrow. It’s costing us $16 billion extra over the next 20 years, according to Premier John Horgan’s hand-picked analysis.

Green energy plans, whether in Ontario or Germany or Australia, have a way of ending up as wreckage. Campbell’s plan suffered a head-on collision with reality around 2010, two years after B.C. led the world in imposing a carbon tax and declaring its path to clean energy self-sufficiency. Based on distributed, contracted hydro, wind and biomass, it included exporting the purest power from the Best Place on Earth to California, where Campbell and his pal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were envisioning a “hydrogen highway” to the future.

Then came the shale gas revolution, as detailed in the report from former NDP finance executive Ken Davidson, who chose the totally objective title “Zapped” for his findings. Abundant, cheap oil and natural gas transformed the U.S. energy scene, and California among other states shifted from coal to gas for electricity.

This is how the U.S. became the only one of the climate-posturing countries from the Paris summit in 2015 to actually produce a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions. As with ratings for hosting the long-running TV reality show The Apprentice, Donald Trump beat Arnie hands down.

Campbell also didn’t anticipate the Great Recession that took hold in 2009. Some mill and mine investments never came back, and now B.C. Hydro estimates it will have surplus electricity into the 2030s.

RELATED: B.C.’s private power called big charge to hydro bills

RELATED: NDP needs ‘magic’ to meet climate targets, Weaver says

Neither B.C. Hydro nor the NDP seem to put much stock in the upsurge of electrification the government keeps talking about. And then there’s B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver, who seems to have his own political hot mess.

As a climate scientist, Weaver was a supporter of distributed clean energy projects back in those days. He endorsed Campbell’s Site C dam too. But now he’s leading a party that would whip him with cooked kale if he uttered such blasphemy. Now he wants distributed green energy instead of Site C, and stay tuned for the next revision.

If Green Party folks were serious about greenhouse gases, they’d be calling for nuclear plants. But there’s no coherence to Green policy, and the public is beginning to understand that.

Clean Energy B.C., the private power industry group that represents run-of-river, solar, wind and geothermal investors, said “Zapped” played the familiar political game of using spot price in the electricity market to cast B.C.’s private power producers as overpriced.

“In [Davidson’s] report, there is a fundamental error in using an inaccurate and overly simplified proxy for the market price of electricity,” the group said in a statement. They also note they employ people, electrify remote Indigenous communities and pay more taxes than the oil industry in B.C.

Mungall promised no more political interference with B.C. Hydro rates, but oddly the next two years of proposed increases are far below the alleged annual impact of private power. That’s because they “wrote off” $1.1 billion in deferred B.C. Hydro debt, transferring it to taxpayers.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Suspicious fire started in West Trail

A fire broke out on Tamarac Ave. Saturday morning, causing damage to two homes

RCMP, Regional fire rescue investigate string of suspicious fires in Marsh Creek

Arson is the likely cause of three fires lit near Marsh Creek Road near Frutivale on Friday

Lightning blamed for multiple fire starts across Kootenays

Southeast Fire Centre says ground crews, air support responding to fires near Revelstoke, Nakusp

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Wild’s Mathew Dumba makes anti-racism speech, kneels ahead of Blackhawks vs. Oilers

Matt Dumba, 26, took to center ice to speak on behalf of fellow members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance

Most Read